Day 1: Arrive Quito
Arrive in Ecuador’s Capital city where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, your base for 3 nights
Day 2: Private tour of Quito and the Equatorial Monument
Quito, a modern, vibrant city with a long and fascinating history, was the second most important city in the Inca Empire (after Cusco). The beautifully restored colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through the Old Town with its churches, monasteries and hidden patios. Your tour continues just north of Quito to the Equatorial Monument, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador.
Day 3: Otavalo
Early departure for a one day tour of the fertile Otavalo Valley. The journey north takes you through dramatic mountain scenery to Otavalo, surrounded by volcanoes, rivers and lakes. Visit the world famous market featuring a dazzling display of tapestries, hammocks, jewellery, paintings and colourful native clothing. Continue to Peguche, an Indian village, home to the artisans who do the weaving in their homes; learn about their culture and everyday life. The excursion includes lunch at one of the charming country inns or haciendas of the area.
There are other options here, including a visit to the Cloud Forest either on a day or multi day basis and/or to visit the Amazon basin for two to three days.
Days 4 – 6: Spirit of the Andes 3 day tour .
Today you will embark on a 3 day adventure into the Andes that will awaken your senses. From Quito, travel along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, to Cuenca. The journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes, with cultural discoveries and ethnic and culinary delights along the way; you will gain insights into the local life, customs and traditions of the Andean people. There are various options for this part of your tour, which may include exploring Cotopaxi National Park in more detail and/or travelling on the Devil’s Nose train
Your journey ends in the city of Cuenca. Its superb Colonial centre, that still retains all of its traditional charm, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll along the flower-lined cobblestone streets and along the river bank, visit the churches, museums, antique shops and art galleries. At dusk on you final day transfer to Cuenca airport for your flight to Guayaquil for an overnight stay.
An alternative here is to take an overland journey to Guayaquil, this is a full day journey and requires the addition of two extra nights – one in Cuenca and one in Guayaquil.
Day 7 – 11: Galápagos Cruise
Today you will be transferred to Guayaquil Airport for your flight to the Galápagos. There is no place on Earth like the Galápagos Islands. Far out in the Pacific Ocean, this archipelago is part of Ecuador’s national park system. When Charles Darwin visited in 1835, he observed a pristine, naturally isolated living laboratory that would inspire and refine his theories. The islands have not lost their ability to inspire; here you can walk amongst unique species such as marine iguanas, observe the elaborate mating rituals of blue-footed boobies, albatrosses and frigate birds, snorkel with turtles… encounter wildlife unthreatened by predators and undisturbed by visitors. Explore the magic of the Galápagos on comfortable expedition cruise vessels, accompanied by expert, knowledgeable guides who are committed to preserving this wonderful area for future generations.
There are a number of different cruise options and of varying durations. There is also a land based programme for those less keen to take to the water.
Day 11: Guayaquil
Fly back to Guayaquil on the mainland to continue your onward arrangements
All photographs by kind permission of Metropolitan Touring